Shell Fiat

1959 Fiat 600

History and Discovery - Fiat Test Car Found

When the 1959 Opel 376mpg was advertised on ebay, the auction provided information about a book called "Fuel Economy of the Gasoline Engine" published by John Wiley and Sons 1977. In that book is information concerning gasoline and the ways to get the most out of it's use. Also, in that book is reference to vehicles run in the Mileage Marathons by Shell engineers. Of the vehicles listed, are the ones mentioned in this website. For all practical purposes, we will cover the 59 Fiat 600. Wow, the information given in that book! Now, how did my possession of the Fiat come about? A fast internet search for the vehicles mentioned in the book resulted in a find for the 59 Fiat. There was an article written about two guys from Empire Autohaus in Birmingham, Alabama where a shop owner and shop mechanic had plans to restore the Fiat. This was too good to be true. Two of the most notable vehicles run in the Shell Mileage Marathons are still available today, not to forget their origin 1959. I immediately emailed the shop for information on the vehicle. Talking to the shop owner turned into a purchase. Plans to restore the Fiat were quickly fading between them and the car needed a new home. Within a week, the Fiat was in my hands (thanks to my son for the fast delivery). More research followed. Turns out, the car was once owned by Bill France (Mr. Nascar to all you Nascar followers). Also found out that the Fiat and the Opel were donated to the Talladega Raceway Museum to use the cars in the museum when the museum opened around 1981. Were the cars shown in the museum? Information I cannot find. But, the museum caretakers could tell me the Fiat and Opel sat outside the building in the weather ever since the early eightys. Another bit of information was that the cars were run by Bill France for testing then too, probably before the days of sitting outside that museum. I continued my search for more information. More was found in the library of the SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers). Several papers were written on fuel economy and the use of modifications on the Fiat to improve economy. Great reading. In fact, great documentation on facts about the Fiat. Those papers will be listed in reference points elsewhere in the site. There is one more great find pertaining to the Fiat or should I say pertaining to the men that actually were the knowledge behind the success of the Fiat. There were three engineers originally that worked on the Fiat. The year was 1967. They were Jones, Carlson and Trokey. Soon after the 1968 race, Jones left the team. That left Carlson and Trokey. Well, now it's 2008. Not only was the car still available, but the team of Trokey and Carlson are still available today for information about the Fiat. I personally want to thank them for information shared for this report about such a valuable historical find. To think, at one time this all started as a bet "I bet I can get better fuel economy out of a car than you can" between who knows who back in 1939.    

More to come.....Last updated 4-6-2012